Rebels Capture Unity State Oil Wells; New Fighting in Malakal

Malakal, December 26, 2013 (SSNA) — Rebel forces loyal the former Vice president Dr. Riek Machar have captured most of the oil wells in Unity State, the South Sudan News Agency has been able to independently verify the reports.

The rebels seized the wells late Thursday.

The Minister of Petroleum Stephen Dhieu Dau admitted that the rebels have taken control of much of the Unity State oil wells and he  believes that the defected forces could damage the wells.

"Some oil wells are in the hands of rebel soldiers loyal to former vice president Riek Machar and we fear they may cause damage to the facilities and the environment”, Stephen Dhieu told the Reuters News Agency.

New Fighting in Malakal

Fresh fighting broke out on Thursday in the capital of oil-rich Upper Nile State between the warring forces vying for the control of the capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile State.

Malakal was seized by the defected SPLA forces late Tuesday, but, the government refused to acknowledge the falling of Malakal into rebels’ hands, saying its forces control half of the city and asserted that the SPLA will soon defeat the rebels and recapture the town.

"They control half of the town and government troops control the other half. They will be defeated soon," SPLA Spokesperson Philip Aguer was quoted by the Reuters as saying.

Some residents claim that heavy gunfire was heard in the city center and people are force to stay in their houses due to the fighting. But, the SSNA cannot confirm the existence of a fresh fighting.

The deepening political crisis in the world’s youngest country has resulted in the death of civilians in Juba and other parts of the country.

Earlier this week, the United States calls on Kiir and Machar to start “immediate mediated political talks” so that a peaceful solution can be attained.

Meanwhile, East African leaders intensify their search for a peaceful end to the young nation’s deepening political turmoil.

Fighting erupted in South Sudan capital, Juba, on December 15, after disagreement between units of presidential guards. But, South Sudanese president Salva Kiir Mayardiit claims that his political adversaries attempted a “coup”; despite the fact that details of the alleged coup remained sketchy.

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